US visa rules put off international students

September 3, 2004

Complicated visa rules and concern about a hostile welcome have deterred international students from enrolling at US universities, Jon Marcus writes.

The proportion of foreign students at US universities levelled off in the 2002-03 academic year, the last period for which figures are available, having risen 5 per cent in previous years. The number of students from Muslim countries suffered a major drop.

Anecdotal evidence suggests things have not improved since then. In May, the State Department said the rate of increase in student visas continued to slow.

The sharp fall in the number of applications to MBA programmes is being blamed in part on a decline in international prospects.

A survey by the Graduate Management Admissions Council reported a 25 per cent fall in numbers of applications from China, while a further 16 per cent said they had fewer applicants from India.

Overall, numbers of international applications to graduate schools fell 32 per cent for the current year, according to the Council of Graduate Schools.

University officials blame the drop on strict new post-September 11 visa rules, citing unnecessary red tape and requirements for repeated personal interviews.

The American Council on Education has expressed concern over the restrictions.

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